Earlier I wrote about some companies in the West Michigan area that attempt to recruit young professionals into direct sales jobs by positioning those jobs as careers in advertising, marketing and public relations. To clarify my position – I have nothing against sales as a vocation. I have family members and friends that work in sales. What I take issue with is recruiting people under false pretenses. Though Sales and Marketing work hand-in-hand, saying a job in Sales is the same as a job in Marketing is like saying a Comptroller is the same as a Firefighter.
“Marketing” is a word that has been bastardized (and is frequently used interchangeably with Public Relations and Advertising). True “marketing” requires that an organization have control of the “Marketing Mix” or the “Four P’s”: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Direct sellers do not control any of those things (save occasionally the promotion).
If anyone is unclear on the difference between Sales and Marketing, here’s an excerpt from an article by Dorie Clark in the Harvard Business Review that outlines the larger difference:
“Recognize the difference between marketing and sales. There’s often a lot of confusion about marketing and sales. Indeed, many executives have both in their titles — where does one discipline end and the other begin? Here’s my quick definition: marketing is what you do to make clients come to you, while sales is about you reaching out to them and closing the deal. They’re both important and complementary — the former is longer-term and creates a valuable pipeline for the coming months and years; the latter is what’s going to help you make payroll next week. Ideally, your company should have a strong mix of both to keep your cash flow balanced; if not, you’re going to have to adjust accordingly.” – (2012), “Marketing for the Extremely Shy,” Harvard Business Review
In a more specific, occupational sense, jobs in Advertising/PR/Marketing almost universally require college degrees whereas jobs in Sales almost universally do not.
Why this practice concerns me is that it stands to negatively affect the careers of young professionals. This entry level work in sales will not readily translate into experience that a future employer at an actual Marketing, Advertising or PR agency would value in a hiring decision.
Here are a sampling of some misleading job descriptions I was just able to find today with a quick Google search, including jobs from another company I haven’t seen before falsely selling itself as doing “marketing” – T.E.M. Inc. :
Other companies that fit this model include:
As ArtPrize opens in Grand Rapids, an actual controversy has finally broken out.
It’s not the usual controversy (ie art snobs being upset that “commoners” are allowed to express opinions on what constitutes “good art). It’s actually controversy over work considered to be obscene. Read more…
A colleague of mine recently had an unfortunate experience with WWMT Channel 3 here in West Michigan. One of their reporters burst into the offices of Patriot Solutions with cameras rolling and accusations flying.
It offers a “teachable moment” to point out two problems I see public relations professionals encounter with their counterparts in the news media:
Problem 1 – Not Doing One’s Homework
The basis of the investigation is that Patriot Solutions is classified as a “service-disabled, veteran-owned company.” WWMT noted that the disability rating of the owners is “0 percent,” so they are alleging some sort of fraud.
The problem is, as the National Veteran-Owned Business Association could readily tell you, having a “0 percent” disability doesn’t mean that a veteran wasn’t disabled as a result of their service to their country. What it means is that their disability is not at a “compensable level” – meaning it doesn’t “substantially [limit] one or more major life activities.”
So, for example, a veteran could have a “0 percent” disability rating if they suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder but are able to make it to work every day and lead a relatively normal life despite suffering from mental health issues.
Problem 2 – Asking Questions One Knows Can’t be Answered
What WWMT did with their ambush interview was put Patriot Solutions in an impossible position: every journalist worth his/her salt knows that any employer has to decline to comment on private personnel matters. It’s against the law – employees have privacy rights. Same with patients; showing up at a hospital and demanding information on someone being treated is a HIPAA violation. Further, the same is true of students; their privacy is protected by FERPA.
Veterans of the Marine Corps and the Army (which the owners of Patriot Services are) deserve respect and fair treatment as much as all other citizens (if not moreso). What WWMT essentially did was attack these individuals during business hours and demand that they cough up sensitive, personal medical information because its reporter doesn’t know how to use the Google Machine.
Dick move, WWMT. Dick move. Hopefully they do the right thing and nix the piece before they do more damage.